‘I can’t breathe’ uttered by dozens in fatal police holds across U.S.

This Marine veteran has 2 Purple Hearts
Damn big heart of his own, as well

In Columbus, Georgia, a 300-pound police officer sat on Hector Arreola’s back while another held a knee to his neck and kept him face down outside his neighbor’s house for six minutes until he stopped moving and later died.

In Phoenix, four police officers placed the weight of their bodies on Muhammad Abdul Muhaymin’s head, neck, back and limbs as he lay face-down and handcuffed before going into cardiac arrest and dying.

Three officers in Aurora, Colorado, tackled Elijah McClain as he walked home with groceries, using a stranglehold around his neck and handcuffing him as he pleaded and vomited. He was removed from life support days later.

In all three cases, the unarmed men uttered the same phrase as police wrestled them into custody.

“I can’t breathe.”

Their warnings were ignored.

The phrase has become an international rallying cry against police brutality after the high-profile deaths of Eric Garner in 2014 and George Floyd on Memorial Day. But, across the country, dozens of people have died in police custody under similar circumstances.

RRTFA and weep for the dead and their families. Then, stand up and march to stop legalized murder by your local coppers. They already know the odds are overwhelming they will get away with murder. With your murder…especially if you are Black. But, regardless of color, of age, language you speak, they will get away with your murder unless you stop them. That requires intimidating elected officials at every level of government with the fear of losing their job.

Yes, there’s lots more to do besides march. It ain’t a bad way to start! That ex-Marine up top picked a day with no demonstrations scheduled at Utah’s state capitol to stand at attention for 3 hours in the afternoon sun to express his opinion.

A “Beer Hall Putsch”…Trump-style

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner raised eyebrows Tuesday by suggesting that there was uncertainty about whether the presidential election would happen in November as scheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic and that he had some role in making that determination.

Hours after his remarks to Time magazine generated a strong reaction on social media, Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, issued a clarification, saying he was unaware of and not involved in any “discussions” about changing the date of the 2020 election. Neither Trump nor Kushner as his adviser has any legal authority to change the timing of the presidential election.

The brief and disconcerting episode raised doubts about Kushner’s familiarity with the laws and constitutional provisions governing U.S. presidential elections. As the Congressional Research Service says, “The text of the Constitution does not appear to contain a constitutional role for the Executive Branch in such decisions.”

The dimwits who say they will follow Trump to Hell and back will, of course, be more than willing to march behind their fuehrer to any beer hall of his choice.

America is not yet lost – probably

❝ Let’s be clear: America as we know it is still in mortal danger. Republicans still control all the levers of federal power, and never in the course of our nation’s history have we been ruled by people less trustworthy.

❝ This obviously goes for Trump himself, who is clearly a dictator wannabe, with no respect whatsoever for democratic norms. But it also goes for Republicans in Congress, who have demonstrated again and again that they will do nothing to limit his actions. They have backed him up as he uses his office to enrich himself and his cronies, as he foments racial hatred, as he attempts a slow-motion purge of the Justice Department and the F.B.I…

❝ Early this year the commentator David Frum warned that the slide into authoritarianism would be unstoppable “if people retreat into private life, if critics grow quieter, if cynicism becomes endemic.” But so far that hasn’t happened.

What we’ve seen instead is the emergence of a highly energized resistance. That resistance made itself visible literally the day after Trump took office, with the huge women’s marches that took place on Jan. 21, dwarfing the thin crowds at the inauguration. If American democracy survives this terrible episode, I vote that we make pink pussy hats the symbol of our delivery from evil.

I second that emotion.

Thanks, Paul Krugman

50 years after – we’re still marching

Just about this time – 50 years ago – I was sitting on the side of the steps leading into the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. A young Black preacher named Martin Luther King, Jr. was into his speech on the Mall on the theme of “I have a dream”.

I’d finished my tasks as part of the local amalgamation of civil rights groups centered in factory towns in southern New England. Our Freedom Train had made its assigned stops picking folks up. We made it to DC without incident. We found our way over to the Mall and settled into a day of protest for jobs and civil rights. Frankly, I was exhausted.

Among other needs, one that I almost always filled was security against every kind of creep who might attack our protest – whether they were creeps from the John Birch Society, precursor to the Tea Party, or agents planted by any one of the dozens of police from FBI to local coppers.

I sat and listened. And sitting with three other young women and men from my detail, we discussed and rejoiced over the explosion of talent and leadership reaching the national stage that day. All the speakers, all the musicians, and especially Dr. King and his wonderful speech to the world.

Congressman John Lewis – then, speaking on behalf of SNCC – and still at it. We’ll never relent.

Fifty years ago Wednesday, John Lewis was the youngest speaker to address the estimated quarter-million people at the March on Washington.

“Those who have said be patient and wait — we must say that we cannot be patient,” the 23-year-old chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) said that day. “We do not want our freedom gradually. But we want to be free now.”

Aug. 28, 1963, also was the day the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, and few are as thoughtful about the significance of the day as Lewis, now a Democratic congressman from Georgia and civil rights icon.

That summer, the nation had seen black children attacked by dogs and fire hoses in Birmingham, Ala., as well as the murder of NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers.

In his 1963 speech, Lewis thundered: “Where is the political party that would make it unnecessary to march on Washington?”

Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, says Lewis originally planned to give a much angrier speech.

“[The vote] is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society,” Lewis told the crowd Saturday. “And we’ve got to use it.”

“Unlike all the other leaders there, John, coming out of the SNCC leadership, really experienced that violence,” says Bunch. “He experienced that violence as a Freedom Rider. He experienced that violence at the sit-ins. He found himself saying how crucial it was not to wait for freedom because waiting for freedom also meant that there would be years more violence.”

Lewis is still fighting, he told a crowd Saturday during a march to commemorate the original demonstration 50 years ago.

“There are forces — there are people who want to take us back,” he said. “We cannot go back. We’ve come too far. We want to go forward.”

Lewis said he never thought 50 years later that some of the same issues would be back on the table.

“I thought we had completed the fight for the right to vote, the right to participate in the democratic process. I thought we were in a process of reforming the justice system. But when I see something like what the Supreme Court did, or what happened to Trayvon Martin, it tells me over and over again that we’re not there yet. We have not finished.”

You’ll get to hear Dr. King’s speech beaucoup times, today. And then it will be put away till the next annual event on television. You’ll get to hear John Lewis on the floor of Congress any day, every day. Because the miserable cowards, the bigots and racists of America haven’t gone away.

We shall overcome – but, only if we count first of all on our own selves, our own feet to do the marching, our voices to lift up in song. Yes, and those of us with a place in the digital world have a responsibility to speak up there, as well. Being social doesn’t mean you slack off on changing society for the better.

Pakistan government relents and reinstates Chief Justice

Dancing lawyers!
Daylife/AP Photo

The Pakistani government has agreed to reinstate the independent-minded former chief justice of the Supreme Court, a stunning concession to the opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who had been heading toward the capital in a convoy threatening to stage a mass protest over the issue after he broke free from house arrest at his residence near here.

The concession, broadcast on national television by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, came after a tumultuous weekend in Pakistani politics in which a dispute between President Asif Ali Zardari and Mr. Sharif escalated into a crisis that was destabilizing a nuclear-armed nation already under pressure from a growing Islamic insurgency and severe economic troubles.

The decision to restore the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, came after calls to Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif, including from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, asking them to ease their differences…

In reaction to Mr. Zardari’s concession, Mr. Sharif said he would call off his protest and the planned sit-in in the capital. He said the restoration of the chief justice was a victory for Pakistan and a due but belated move by the president. After making his remarks in Gujranawala, he returned to his home in Raiwind, outside of Lahore…

A lawyers’ movement has agitated for Mr. Chaudhry’s return, and Mr. Sharif made Mr. Chaudhry, as a symbol of an independent judiciary, the centerpiece of his platform since his return to Pakistani politics from his exile in late 2007.

RTFA. Regardless of where you fit into support for a faction of Pakistan’s politics, the restoration of a central aspect of institutional law must be welcomed.

As on outsider – one whose only commitment is to democracy and peace, economic justice – this looks like one step forward. I hope it isn’t answered by two steps backwards from the forces dedicated to medieval solutions.

Over 100,000 march in Dublin against the government

Daylife/Getty Images

More than 100,000 people have marched through the centre of Dublin to protest at the Irish government’s handling of the financial crisis. The rally, organised by trade unions, was so large that while the head of the march reached Government Buildings in Merrion Square the tail end was still a mile away, at the starting point at Parnell Square, north of the river Liffey.

It was the largest anti-government demonstration since the early 1980s, when tens of thousands of workers took to the streets protesting against the country’s tax system…

The strength of anger prompted opposition politicians to demand an early general election. Speaking just before the march began, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the time was now right for a general election.

The call for a new government was echoed by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams at his party’s Ard Fheis in Dublin yesterday. Meanwhile Sinn Féin’s new vice-president, Mary Lou McDonald, told the conference that “corrupt bankers” should be sacked over their part in the crisis…

At the rally David Begg, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said that the government needed to nationalise the Irish banking system to save the country’s economy.

Peter McLoone from the Impact union said that workers did not cause the current economic collapse but were “being forced to pay for it”.

Uniformed firemen led the march along O’Connell Street, Ireland’s main thoroughfare, across the Liffey, past Trinity College and on to the back of Government Buildings.

The government has adopted the most regressive of policies, saying they’ll save pensions and government programs by increasing taxes on working class and middle income families. They must have hired Dick Cheney as consultant.

Throw the bums out!

Muslims in India march against terrorism

Daylife/AP Photo by Manish Swarup

Throngs of Indian Muslims, ranging from Bollywood actors to skullcap-wearing seminary students, marched through the heart of Mumbai and several other cities on Sunday, holding up banners proclaiming their condemnation of terrorism and loyalty to the Indian state.

The protests, though relatively small, were the latest in a series of striking public gestures by Muslims — who have often come under suspicion after past attacks — to defensively dissociate their own grievances as a minority here from any sort of sympathy for terrorism or radical politics in the wake of the deadly assault here.

Muslim leaders have refused to allow the bodies of the nine militants killed in the attacks to be buried in Islamic cemeteries, saying the men were not true Muslims. They also suspended the annual Dec. 6 commemoration of a 1992 riot in which Hindus destroyed a mosque, in an effort to avert communal tension. Muslim religious scholars and public figures have issued strongly worded condemnations of the attacks.

So far, their approach appears to have worked: the response has been remarkably unified, with little of the suspicion and fear that followed some previous attacks.

“It’s a pity we have to prove ourselves as Indians,” said Mohammed Siddique, a young accountant who was marching in the protest here on Sunday afternoon with his wife and mother. “But the fact is, we need to speak louder than others, to make clear that those people do not speak for our religion — and that we are not Pakistanis.”

Excellent piece of reporting. A worthwhile read.

One of those tough political decisions needing to be made – juxtaposing national unity and legitimate questions about equal rights and opportunity within the nation of India.